Karel Appel (April 25, 1921 – May 3, 2006) was a Dutch painter and sculptor, born in Amsterdam.
Christiaan Karel Appel was born in his parents' house at 7 Dapperstraat, Amsterdam. On the ground floor, his father, Jan Appel, had a barber shop. His mother, born Johanna Chevalier, was a descendant of French Huguenots. Karel Appel had three brothers.
At fourteen, Appel produced his first real painting, on canvas, a still life of a fruit basket. For his fifteenth birthday, his wealthy uncle Karel Chevalier gave him a paint set and an easel. An avid amateur painter himself, Chevalier gave his namesake some lessons in painting.
He studied at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten there from 1940 to 1943 and had his first show in Groningen in 1946. He was influenced by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Jean Dubuffet; he joined the Nederlandse Experimentele Groep and joined CoBrA in 1948 together with Corneille, Constant and Jan Nieuwenhuys (see also Aart Kemink). His 1949 fresco 'Questioning Children' in the Amsterdam City Hall caused controversy and was covered up for ten years.
As a result of this controversy Appel moved to Paris in 1950 and he developed his international reputation travelling to Mexico, the USA, Yugoslavia and Brazil. He is particularly noted for his mural work and lived between New York and Florence. He died on the 3rd of May 2006 in Zürich, where he was living at the time. He is buried at the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris.